A French soldier stands inside a military helicopter during a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to the troops of Operation Barkhane, France's largest overseas military operation, in Gao, northern Mali, Friday, May 19, 2017. Canada's decision to send military helicopters to Mali has coincided with a major review of the UN peacekeeping mission, the results of which are expected in the coming weeks. The review was launched in January and its aim is to determine whether the UN mission is on the right track or needs to change to better support peace and stability in the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Christophe Petit Tesson, POOL

Canadian Army feeling squeeze of more demands, fewer soldiers

The head of the Canadian Army says his force is facing more demands at home and in Europe even as the number of soldiers under his command continues to shrink.

Lt.-Gen. Joe Paul says the squeeze is forcing the Army to take a closer look at some long-established assumptions and ways of doing things to see where it can be more efficient.

Commanders across the whole of the Canadian Armed Forces have been sounding the alarm about a personnel crisis that has left thousands of positions vacant.

Paul says the Army shrunk by 1,200 soldiers last year — and possibly another 800 this year due to recruiting and retention challenges.

At the same time, troops are dealing with more calls for assistance in response to natural disasters here at home, while also gearing up to expand Canada’s presence in Latvia.

There are already hundreds of Canadian soldiers working with a NATO battlegroup there, and Paul says the Army will respond as the military alliance moves to grow the force next year.

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